A ‘Your Mother’s Guidance’ post by Rebecca Masinter
Deuteronomy 26:1 begins, “And it will be when you come to the land…” It continues with the laws of first fruits and other commandments that we are only obligated to do in the land of Israel which the Jewish nation was about to enter. In truth, most of Deuteronomy is filled with commandments the Jewish people can fulfill fully only in the land of Israel. Many of them we have actually already learned about earlier, but Moses reviews them here in his final speech to the nation before they enter the land. Nachmanides, a key transmitter of ancient Jewish wisdom, tells us that even the commandments that seem new to us here in Deuteronomy were actually taught earlier in the 40 years in the desert. They just weren’t recorded in the Torah until this point when Moses reviewed them.
Here is a great parenting tip, straight from Moses! When something out of the ordinary is going to happen, we should tell our children in advance and in detail what will happen and how they should behave. Then, immediately before the event, we should review again what to do. That’s how Moses did it!
[Rebecca now gives an example that is relevant for Jewish parents as many mothers bring their young children to synagogue to hear the shofar (ram’s horn) on the New Year (Rosh HaShanah) holy days. This includes children who may not be accustomed to being in synagogue as they usually go to children’s groups or stay home until they are older and able to behave properly.) For example, now is a good time to talk to our little children about Rosh Hashanah and the shofar, and how we’re going to go together to hear the shofar, and this is what they need to know. Synagogue is a place where we behave respectfully and quietly. We will walk, not run in the halls, and we’ll walk quietly to and from our seats, and we don’t talk, especially not when we’re there for Shofar blowing. (I’m not suggesting this is what you have to say, just sharing what may come up when I do this.) This conversation can happen now, and repeatedly over the next week as needed.
But then, right before we walk into synagogue on Rosh Hashanah, you can be sure, I, and many other mothers, will say, “Do you remember what we do and don’t do in synagogue on Rosh Hashana? Can you remember to walk, not run, and be totally quiet once we’re inside?” Effective mothers do this all the time before trips to the grocery store, museums, airplane travel, before guests come over and on and on. We all do it, but now you know where it originated! The commandments concerning the land of Israel were taught over a period of 40 years, but now right before entering the land, we get a review, just like we give our kids! That’s parenting the Biblical way!